Across the U.S., July ACT cancellations continued until the eleventh hour. Like we've seen ahead of other exams in recent months, students reported last-minute changes and cancellations in the days leading up to the July 18 exam.
ACT's website showed that the percentage of test centers estimated to remain open had dropped to 81% as of 9:00PM Eastern time the night before the test. (This followed an initial decrease to 84% after the first round of cancellations at the end of last month.) Overall, a significantly higher percentage of test centers have remained open in July—compared to fewer than 33% of test centers that remained open in June—but the additional closures still affect students across the country.
Here are the details, including what to do next if your test was cancelled.
Although ACT initially emailed students who were affected by test center changes and cancellations at the end of June, some students have reported learning about last-minute changes through other means this week. In some cases, students first discovered their tests were cancelled or moved to other locations by checking their admission tickets, calling their test centers, or checking the ACT website. (Note that when checking the list of cancelled sites on ACT's website, the list does not include sites remaining open while reducing their capacities, which means a student could lose their seat even if their test center is not on the list.)
Some locations in the U.S. were affected by last-minute changes to a greater extent than others.
- North Carolina, West Virginia, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Tennessee had the highest percentages of additional closures in the two weeks before the July test date.
- Delaware and New Hampshire reported no test center closures.
- Another 11 states—including Connecticut, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont—maintained steady numbers of open test centers across the month of July.
- Utah and Nevada each had one additional test center reopen between the end of June and the test date in July.
It's important to keep in mind that these numbers reflect only full closures; they do not reflect changes to test centers' capacities as fewer or more seats may have become available. In cases in which test centers needed to further reduce capacity, ACT prioritized 12th-grade students and 11th-grade students before looking at the order in which students registered for the exam.
What to do next
Many students have come to expect the unexpected this year, but it can still be challenging and disappointing to face repeated delays and last-minute disruptions of your testing plans.
Remind yourself that the hard work you've put into your ACT prep will pay off when you sit for your exam. The effort and time you've spent prepping for each test date will put you in a great position to have a strong performance when your test finally moves forward, even if you end up testing later in the year than you'd anticipated.
Here are some steps you can take and things you can keep in mind as you consider what to do next.
- Fall exam registration opens the last week of July. We've seen recent test dates fill up quickly, so you should plan to register as soon as you can. ACT recently added September and October test dates to meet the increased demand.
- In the meantime, we recommend slowing the pace of your prep or taking a break until the end of July in order to avoid burnout before you resume your regular study routine.
- When you resume prepping for the ACT, you can aim for around 4-5 hours of prep per week (a mix of practice exams, tutoring, and independent study).
- The number of test centers remaining open in July is an encouraging sign for September test-takers. The overall significantly higher July numbers indicate that many locations are figuring out how to safely move forward with in-person testing. This is a promising sign for September—even more so because additional test dates mean additional testing opportunities in the event of cancellations or schedule changes.
- Continue to prepare yourself for last-minute changes.
- There will continue to be uncertainty surrounding future test dates. Cancellations are difficult to predict, especially several weeks or months in advance. This is both because of the unpredictable nature of COVID-19 and because cancellations can be the decision of any one of a number of actors (ACT, school districts, or local governments).
- In both June and July, some students did not find out about cancellations until the night before or morning of the exam, so it's a good idea to mentally prepare yourself for any scenario and regularly check your email, the ACT website, and your admission ticket in the weeks leading up to your exam. Some students have reported that they were able to find out the status of their exams sooner by calling their test centers directly.
Need more individualized advice?
The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.
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